Bombay High Court recently accepted the petition of a transwoman to contest village panchayat polls from a women’s category.

In a recent hearing, Bombay High Court allowed a transwoman to contest polls through the women’s category after they filed a petition regarding the same. The Aurangabad bench of Bombay HC ruled in favour of the petition that transgender persons have the right to “self-perceived gender identity”.

Petitioner Anjali Guru Sanjana Jaan had filed a petition after her nomination for contesting a Gram Panchayat election in Jalgaon district had been rejected. The grounds of rejection mentioned by the returning officer were that the form had mentioned the female gender to contest the polls from a ward that’s reserved for women’s general category in a village where there was no transgender category present. Petitioner’s advocate A P Bhandari stated that the petitioner has always preferred the female gender and will not be shifting over to the male gender in the future, except for when a transgender category will be present.

The court accepted the petition in view of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 which permits a transgender person the right to self-perceived gender identity. According to reports, the court said, “In the present case, the petitioner has opted for the female gender as her self-perceived gender identity and also makes a statement that henceforth in her lifetime, she would not switch over to male gender driven by opportunism and would continue to opt for female gender, in future, save and except if there is a reservation provided for transgenders in public life.”

The court accepted the nomination form and ceased the rejection order. The petitioner will now contest the election of the same ward from women’s category. The move has been welcomed by activists and the general public.

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